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ASPARi host their 2nd Equipment Manufacturers Seminar in February 2022

The Asphalt Paving Research and innovation network is a collaboration between 10 of the largest contractors in the Netherlands, national road agency Rijkswaterstaat and researchers of the University of Twente. The ASPARi network has been active since 2007 in trying to reduce variability in the asphalt construction process using new technologies and innovative approaches. To speed up technology adoption and stimulate cooperation and discussion between the various stakeholders, the ASPARi network organized this event and prepared a position paper. Several Equipment Manufacturers provided stimulating comments and were invited to speak at this prestigious event.  

Seminar manufacturer.jfif

Photo by Steven Mookhoek

The online event held on 10 February 2022, was attended by more than 80 delegates from around the world. The aim of the seminar was to stimulate discussion between Dutch contractors and Equipment Manufacturers in three themes viz. standardization, digitization and open systems in the paving industry.  Professor André Dorée, ASPARi chair and expert in Construction Industry Dynamics opened the event stressing that the construction industry needs to adapt itself quickly to rapid changes taking place because of Digitalization. Despite the substantial benefits to be gained and added value for contractors and road authorities alike, he warned that a lack of capacity, competencies and skills may delay the digital momentum being built up. He stressed that these and issues such as the energy transition, substantially reducing emissions and improving education levels need to be addressed. They are in fact, top of the agenda in the upcoming ASPARi 5.0 (2023 to 2026) Roadmap to be developed by the network so that researchers, contractors and road authorities can respond appropriately over the next few years.

Below you can download the presentations of the seminar. We also would like to kindly ask you to fill in the questionnaire to enable us to receive the feedback.

The seminar

The first seminar theme focused on Standardization and the different approaches being undertaken in Europe and the United States. Dr. Darius Sossdorf, expert and project leader of the German MiC 4.0 initiative, a uniform digital language/understanding and the process data currently being processed in the road construction sector. German construction companies are working in close cooperation with machine manufacturers on a machine-independent and manufacturer-independent solution to the digital requirements in road construction. Dr. Sossdorf emphasized that a “doing instead of talking” approach is being taken to speed up the process. Like his European counterpart, Dr. George Chang, chairperson of the International Society for Intelligent Construction, provided a USA perspective. Under his guidance, several DoT’s have implemented standards that stimulate the use of digital technologies in road construction. He explained the benefits accrued over the years since the implementation of standards relating to the use of Intelligent Construction equipment and specifically stressed the importance of training at all levels, starting with the paving crews. The “bottom-up and top-down” approaches being taken by Europe and the USA respectively provided interesting insights. On the one hand, Dr. Sossdorf stressed the importance of the collaboration between contractors and machine manufacturers in firstly, trying to speak “one language”.  On the other hand, Dr. Chang highlighted the importance of having suitable standards and specifications in place that stimulate the mainstream adoption of digital technologies. Both presenters agreed that there should be incentives in place to speed up technology adoption and that significant progress could be made with “baby” steps  being taken at first, and at the same time, applying the KISS principle (Keep It Straight and Simple).  

It is well-known that Digitization of the Paving Industry presents opportunities for improved process control during construction and at the same time, provides significant data benefits for both contractors and road authorities. Kevin Garcia provided interesting insights into the direction and vision that Trimble is taking in Digital  Construction, the need for Asset Owners, Engineers and Contractors to work together and an autonomous future not requiring operator input. The latter, he stressed could not be possible without deep integration across the entire jobsite. Against a backdrop of a possible future skills shortage, cost and time pressure and the urgent need for digital natives, Dr. Axel Mulhausen of HAMM, described moves from Machine-Centred to Production Systems, the need for machines to be smarter, more precise and more productive, and the need for lifecycle solutions.  Both presentations highlighted the benefits that digital systems could deliver to improve primary construction operations and in so doing, increase productivity, efficiency and durability.

The 3rd theme of the day focused on the need for Open Systems. Dynapac’s Soenke Demuth described their company’s approach to the development of open interfaces and protocols compatible with the industry standard. Lessons learnt in the agriculture sector were built on to address customer needs, integration and ease of use. He stressed the need for simple and standardized connections suitable for linking a variety of machines, off-the-shelf equipment, hardware and software.  Denis Makarov of Boskalis used the development and implementation of the Pavement Information Modelling (PIM) system to describe contractor needs and client demands in the Netherlands. Closed systems he argued, are not suited to future needs. Open data formats, structured/standardized data and linked systems will enable better interoperability and lead to significant process quality improvement.

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